Are You Team "A Star Is Born" Or Team "Bohemian Rhapsody?"
Two of the biggest films of 2018 that tackle the pitfalls of fame battle it out this award season. Two frontrunners as Golden Globes big winners are the musical films A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody. While one is a biopic of the band Queen and the other is a fictionalized account of a fading star and his protegé, both films tackle the underbelly of fame.
In A Star is Born, established star Jackson Maine handpicks Allie, the lone straight woman performing in a drag show and chooses her to perform in his gigs. She gets to her sing her own songs until she attracts her own manager and even gets nominated for a Grammy, while Jackson sinks deeper and deeper into alcoholism and eventually humiliates her. In Bohemian Rhapsody, the story unfolds of how fan turned frontman Freddie Mercury joins and renames a band Queen and they take the world by storm. But their friendship frays and Freddie himself falls into the time-worn trap of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Both Lady Gaga and Rami Malek were praised for their breakthrough performances and Bradley Cooper’s hitherto hidden talents for songwriting and directing have now been praised to high heavens by both film critics and mass audiences. The feelings are raw and real, the feeling of elation and then exhaustion that can mark the journey to fame and fortune are bordering on melodramatic but still resonate and hit one’s emotional core. In an era of superhero movies and CGI, perhaps audiences are relieved to visit old fashioned stories and familiar human-scaled interactions.
Why would both movies capture not just critics’s nods but generate box office magic as well? Well, in a word, the music is compelling. The concert footage of Queen’s performance at Live Aid is hypnotic and has been named one of the best rock and roll performances of all time,and this is so religiously and painstakingly recreated in the film. The concert scenes from A Star if Born were shot in Coachella and so they capture the grit and power of a true concert.
But there is a deeper reason. Most young people now see fame as accessible and fairly doable; a few YouTube videos and maybe a quick interview with Ellen, or a memorable stint on a reality show and there comes fame. We have an almost morbid fascination with how and why people become famous. But even when one becomes famous the old fashioned way, as we have seen with our top local stars, there is a steep price to pay. One former wunderkind now superstar often says that her life is not her own and suffered a very public meltdown during a tour. A matinee idol took on an extended leave, and is currently basking in living a “normal life.” A young star who made waves in a digital movie reached the front pages when his local visa was not extended and he caused a scene at the airport. These are just a few examples of how fame can take its toll on one’s mental health. And these are the episodes of mental breakdown that reach the press. There are countless other stars who have hidden their moments of doubt, grief, frustration and anxiety, or have had their management cover up their more vulnerable moments. Are fame and fortune worth sanity and stability ?
Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born are cautionary tales but maybe, they will not be seen that way. Most people will just see them for their entertainment value and shrug that in life, everything comes at a price. Ultimately, the showbiz life was still glamorized and glorified. And when the last note is played and sung, the dream of fame will still burn bright.
Competing against Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased), and John David Washington (BlackKklansman), the odds are stacked for a win from either Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born) or Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody). We think Bradley is fantastic for the role, but Rami is able to make the role his own—it’s like he was born to be Freddie Mercury!
Our pick: Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Let’s look at what they’re up against—Black Panther, a Marvel superhero that ticks all the cultural boxes, Spike Lee’s BlackKklansman, and an adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk—all are pretty serious contenders based on their storytelling and content. Everyone thinks Bohemian Rhapsody is a surprise (and very entertaining entry), but if we were to gauge from the reviews and the feedback of those who actually rewatched the film, we wholeheartedly agree that this would be the moment for A Star is Born, a film that combines all the right elements of a Hollywood hit, and more.
Our pick: A Star Is Born
The other categories the two are nominated in:
Best Director, Motion Picture
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Best Original Song - Motion Picture
Shallow, A Star Is Born - WINNER
Are you Team A Star is Born or Bohemian Rhapsody?